Natasha Rastegar reports back from a trip to the Middle East, where a new wine tourism experience is showing just how broad the wine world is becoming
It started with a tasting in a wine shop. The Winemaker is becoming a social hub for the young international crowd in Amman, capital of Jordan, and I quickly understood why. Warmly welcomed by the winemaker himself, Omar Zumot, we were treated to an evening flowing with excellent and unique wines accompanied with delicious baguette, cheese and charcuterie platters. The evening is all about enjoying wine, good food and good company in a relaxed, fun environment.
Zumot has become a bit of a legend on the Middle Eastern wine scene thanks to his innovative approach and passion for winemaking. Fourteen years ago he introduced over 30 noble varieties to his vineyard in Northern Jordan. This experimentation produced some of the highlights we enjoyed that evening such as Carmenère (grapes originally introduced from Chile) and Tokai (grapes originally introduced from Northern Italy). His wines, St. George, named after the church near their first vineyard in Madaba, have won a string of international awards and are certified organic.
As a result of our evening in the shop, we were delighted to accept an invitation from Omar to visit his Sama vineyard. A one-hour drive north from Amman takes you unnervingly close to the Syrian border, before a pink house appears at the end of a cypress tree-lined drive cutting through the vineyard.